With such fine margins at the top of downhill racing there can be no stone left unturned by teams and riders as they search to eradicate any weakness in both themselves and their equipment, trying to shave crucial seconds and even tenths off their race times in doing so. Preparation is one thing and execution another, but at least with the right tools in place you stand your best chance at delivering your full potential. "Off" seasons seem to be shrinking each winter and it's not long after the final drop of champagne is sprayed that teams begin preparing for the following season. Commencal Muc-Off is one of the biggest teams on the circuit these days and employs a pretty intense testing schedule which starts as early as October and features at least one week of testing each month right through until the start of the season. They work closely with Commencal and have two employees from the Andorran office that travel to not only each team camp but every World Cup too, Arthur Quet an engineer and Maxime Auguin who mechanics for both Myriam Nicole and Thibaut Daprela. The feedback from the team is savoured by Commencal and does, in fact, trickle down into the production models. Having two Commencal employees working in the team makes that transfer of feedback extra seamless.
Over the past few seasons, we've seen the team experimenting with things like idler and shock positions on almost a race to race basis. Not many brands make changes and test at the races so openly in the eye of their competitors and the media but Commencal and Riding Addiction (who own and run the team) have a long relationship together and both know how important it is to keep moving forward. Commencal has realised how integral racing is to their company and how useful it is for improving their products, Riding Addiction is the perfect match to help facilitate that and push it forward. Over the past few seasons they had been developing a bike to keep up with the rigours and demands of a certain Mr Pierron. Initially, it was only destined for the race team but over time they realised that it was becoming more and more current and that not only their factory riders would benefit from the direction they had headed in. That very bike is now being brought into production.
The work never stops though and as we joined the team in Tarouca, Portugal in the middle of a 10-day testing stint the 7 strong squad didn't look to be resting on their laurels. Boxes with the words "PROTOTYPE" inscribed on them are stacked by the door whilst bikes are wheeled out into vans complete with data acquisition kit draped off them. You can't have any compromises if you want to be at the front of the pack and that's exactly what Commencal are striving for.